2017 #coleg: SB17-036, on to conference committee

Groundwater movement via the USGS

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

Sens. Ray Scott and Don Coram wanted to simply accept a change to their groundwater appeals bill Wednesday, but the rest of the Senate wouldn’t let them.

The two Republicans from Grand Junction and Montrose, respectively, told the Senate that a change the House made to their measure, SB36, was a minor one.

But Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and others in the Colorado Senate said it weakened it too much.

The bill was designed to prevent moneyed interests, such as developers, from retrying groundwater rights cases that have been determined by the Colorado Groundwater Commission.

Under current law, appeals from that commission to district courts can include evidence not presented to the commission, essentially retrying the cases.

The House altered it to allow that to happen only if the district judge determines that evidence was wrongly excluded or new evidence was discovered.

“What this (bill) now does is, it takes and allows any evidence that may not have been discovered,” Sonnenberg said. “(But) no discovery can fall under that category and can be used in an appeal, essentially creating a scenario where (water) speculators can then lawyer up, engineer up, as we were trying to address in this bill.”

On a 24-10 vote, the Senate rejected Coram’s and Scott’s request to accept the change, forcing them to send the bill to a special conference committee made up of three senators and three legislators from the House to work out that issue.

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